mma / Reports

411’s UFC on ABC 1 Report: Holloway wins 1.16.21

January 16, 2021 | Posted by Robert Winfree
UFC on ABC 1

#1 Max Holloway (146 lbs.) vs. #6 Calvin Kattar (146 lbs.)
Matt Brown (171 lbs.) vs. Carlos Condit (171 lbs.)
Li Jingliang (170 lbs.) vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio (171 lbs.)
Joaquin Buckley (185 lbs.) vs. Alessio Di Chirico (186 lbs.)
Punahele Soriano (186 lbs.) vs. Dusko Todorovic (186 lbs.)

Phil Hawes (186 lbs.) vs. Nassourdine Imavov (186 lbs.)
Joselyne Edwards (135 lbs.) vs. Wu Yanan (136 lbs.)
Carlos Felipe (264 lbs.) vs. Justin Tafa (265 lbs.)
Ramazan Emeev (171 lbs.) vs. David Zawada (170 lbs.)
Vanessa Melo (136 lbs.) vs. Sarah Moras (136 lbs.)
Jacob Kilburn (145 lbs.) vs. Austin Lingo (145 lbs.)

Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC on ABC 1. I’m Robert Winfree and you didn’t misread that, the UFC is on ABC for this event. Apparently there’s some bit in the contract with ESPN that they can be on other Disney broadcasts so they could well be on ABC more often going forward. This is also the first even of 2021 for the UFC, and we could get an early Fight of they Year candidate out of the main event when former champion Max Holloway and surging contender Calvin Kattar meet in a battle between two of the most technically sound strikers the UFC can offer. Matt Brown battles Carlos Condit in a good old boys violence battle, and top contender Santiago Ponzinibbio returns from an extended layoff to battle Li Jingliang. Honestly it’s a pretty decent main card.

UFC on ABC 1 comes to the world from Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. On commentary we have Jon Anik, Dan Hardy and Daniel Cormier, while John Gooden and Paul Felder handle the analyst desk. As for the rules, the UFC self regulates so we’ll be mostly under the new rules with the exception of the downed fighter rule where you only need one hand on the mat to be downed. Of note we do have the new instant replay official and rule, so the fight can be restarted if that’s applicable. We’re also back in the 30 foot Octagon now that we’re out of the APEX facility, so keep that in mind. Oh, there will also be limited fan attendance for this event. First time we’ve had fans for an event since UFC 248. Alrighty, let’s get 2021 started on the right foot.

Oh, well, this is awkward but the Phil Hawes vs. Nassourdine Imavov fight is off due to non-covid medical issues on the part of Hawes. Seems like 2021 is picking up right where 2020 left then. Pity, I was looking forward to that fight.

Jacob Kilburn dropped his UFC debut back in 2019, he’s trying to bounce back and get that all important first UFC win. Austin Lingo suffered his first professional defeat in his UFC debut, now he’s trying to get his first UFC win. Lingo is the -230 favorite to +190 on Kilburn.

Featherweight Bout: Jacob Kilburn (8-3, 145 lbs.) vs. Austin Lingo (7-1, 145 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Lingo is an inch taller while Kilburn has two inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Both men jabbing, Lingo landed the better ones though. Right from Lingo drops Kilburn but Kilburn bounces up into the clinch. They swing heavy in close, Kilburn lands a left hook as they break. A lot of forward pressure from Lingo, but Kilburn is starting to slip his punches a little more. One two from Lingo lands, Kilburn is hurt along the fence. Another one two from Lingo, then a right, even though Kilburn isn’t going down the ref should take a good look at this. Kilburn grabs at a single leg to stall things out and turns Lingo onto the fence. Lingo gets his leg back and forces a break. Short left from Lingo in close, then a jab. Both men land heavy punches in close. Lingo with a hard inside leg kick. Lingo blocks a double leg attempt and pushes Kilburn into the fence. They break but Lingo is still coming forward. Hard right from Lingo, Kilburn is moving well still. Kilburn tries an inside leg kick, but hits Lingo in the groin so we’ve got time. Replay confirms the kick, that was a clear low blow. Lingo takes about 30 seconds and we’re back to fighting. Kilburn lands a spinning back fist, that landed flush, they trade again and Kilburn tries a double leg as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Lingo, nearly 10-8 before that last backfist from Kilburn wobbled him

ROUND TWO: Both men come out firing again, Lingo lands a right. Left hook from Lingo lands. Right then a left hook from Lingo, Kilburn has a solid chin if nothing else. Kilburn ducks for a double leg, he gets it into side control. Lingo kicks him off and stands up. Right from Lingo lands again, he almost can’t miss with that. Kilburn lands a left hook of his own, he’s punching with Lingo when they enter the pocket. One two from Lingo. Kilburn lands a leg kick and circles away from the fence. Another takedown attempt from Kilburn, Lingo defends and then shoves Kilburn into the fence. Lingo pulls free, and cracks Kilburn with a right. Lingo blocks another takedown, and lands a left uppercut. They clinch up, Kilburn is on the fence again. Kilburn is able to spin Lingo, Lingo spins him back. They break and Kilburn misses a spinning back fist. Kilburn nearly gets a double leg, Lingo back up though and Kilburn lands a couple of punches in close. Lingo lands a left hook then gets his own double leg as Kilburn tries to sell out for a guillotine but the choke isn’t there. Lingo is in half guard, landing some punches as Kilburn wall walks. High kick from Kilburn is blcoked, then he tries a double leg again as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Lingo, 20-18 Lingo overall

ROUND THREE: Lingo lands a leg kick then checks one. Right from Lingo lands. Combination in close from Kilburn, then he tries a double leg, then tries to transition to a headlock throw but loses it and Lingo is on his back while Kilburn holds a kimura. Lingo is technically holding a version of leg drag on Kilburn, he lands a few punches but Kilburn is still holding the double wrist lock for defense. They spin as Kilburn commits to the attack, and they stand and trade again. They clinch and hit the fence again. Both men with some punches in the clinch. Knees go back and forth as well then they separate. Bit of a left from Lingo. Kilburn tries a single leg, Lingo defends. Glancing right from Lingo. Lingo lands another right. Kilburn’s nose is bleeding badly at this point. They trade rights, Lingo landed better. Leg kick from Kilburn but he needs a finish. Bit of a right from Lingo, then they trade left hooks. Kilburn tries another takedown, Lingo defends and the clock runs out.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Lingo, 30-27 Lingo overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Austin Lingo via unanimous decision (30-37, 30-26 x2)

No issues with a 10-8 first for Lingo. Mic time for Lingo, they’re doing in cage interviews again. He feels great, thanks his coaches for their work as well. He puts over Kilburn’s toughness, then says he’ll fight anyone.

Sarah Moras has gone just 1-4 in her last five fights, she dropped her last fight and could be fighting for her spot on the roster here. Vanessa Melo has gone 0-3 in the UFC, missed weight for her previous fight, and is almost certainly fighting for her job in this bout. The odds are with Moras at -230 to a +190 comeback on Melo.

Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Vanessa Melo (10-8, 136 lbs.) vs. Sarah Moras (6-6, 136 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Moras has two inches of height and reach over Melo. They touch gloves to get us going. Moras circling and jabbing while Melo tries to stalk forward. Both women missing punches in the pocket. Inside leg kick from Moras lands. Leg kick from Moras, she’s chopping at that leg because Melo is very heavy on it when she tries to enter the pocket. Bit of a right from Melo. Melo is showing some stance switches now, she lands a left from southpaw. Moras lands a leg kick. Melo mostly following the circling of Moras. More leg kicks from Moras, and they trade lefts as well. Right from Moras lands. Melo lands a right to the body. Jabs from Moras, Melo with a left to the body. One two from Moras, that’ll basically be the last blows of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Moras

ROUND TWO: Back to circling and jabbing. Melo lands a left, Moras kind of ducked into it. Moras with an inside leg kick, then an outside one. Melo eats a body kick and lands a counter right. Melo seems to have a better feel for the timing and distance this round, Moras needs a paradigm shift. Looping left from Melo, Moras is bleeding noticeably from the nose. Leg kick from Moras. Melo lands a straight left. Right from Melo, but she eats a counter as well. Leg kick from Moras lands. Moras tries a takedown, Melo defends. Both women with some rights, things are breaking down towards a brawl. There’s a left from Melo to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Melo, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Melo coming forward again. Moras lands a leg kick. Some jabs from Moras fall short. Leg kick from Moras. Melo eats a leg kick and lands a counter left. Bit of a right from Melo, and the nose of Moras is bleeding again. Moras with another leg kick, but again Melo counters with a left hook. Leg kick from Moras. Calf kick from Moras, and a bit of a jab behind it. Melo misses a left hook, but does land a leg kick. Inside leg kick from Melo, then they trade rights. Moras with a leg kick, then an inside leg kick. Bit of a right from Melo. We get some more sloppy striking for the final few seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Moras but who knows, 29-28 Moras overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Vanessa Melo via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

I object to 30-27 for Melo given the first round, but her taking 2 and 3 is entirely fair. No interview for Melo.

David Zawada just broke a two fight losing streak when he got his first UFC win back in November of 2019, now he’s trying to get his first UFC winning streak up and running. Ramazan Emeev has gone 4-1 in the UFC, he won his last fight and is trying to mount another run at the top of the division. Emeev is your favorite at -270 to +220 for Zawada.

Welterweight Bout: Ramazan Emeev (19-4, 171 lbs.) vs. David Zawada (17-5, 170 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Zawada is two inches taller while Emeev has an inch of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get things going. Both men feinting early, Emeev lands a leg kick and a left hook. They clinch up, Zawada lands a knee but eats a hard right on the break that stumbles him for a second. Emeev lands a right. Zawada lands a calf kick. Stiff jab from Emeev lands. They clinch up, trade hockey style uppercuts then break. Zawada lands a hard calf kick. Both men fall short on punches. Emeev gets a body lock, trips and gets Zawada down into side control. Zawada back up quickly, eats a few punches on the way but he didn’t want to be down for long. They clinch again, Zawada has Emeev on the fence and works body shots. Both men land knees to the body, Emeev spins Zawada to the fence. Emeev gets a takedown on a knee attempt from Zawada, he lands in full guard. Zawada looks to shrimp, he reaches for a kimura but Emeev passes to half guard and lands some punches to the body. Zawada is holding that double wrist lock, he bails on it to wall walk and Emeev lands heavy punches before they get up and trade again. Both men land punches, Emeev nearly lands that back elbow that Yair landed on the Korean Zombie. Zawada lands a leg kick. Emeev with a left hook, another leg kick from Zawada closes the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Emeev

ROUND TWO: Another calf kick from Zawada lands to start the round, those are adding up rapidly and Emeev needs to address them. Double leg from Emeev to counter a punch, he’s got Zawada down in butterfly guard. Full closed guard now for Zawada, Emeev working punches to the body and head. Emeev stands over Zawada, eats an up kick but punches Zawada as Zawada gets up then dives into the clinch again. They punch out of the clinch. Zawada with another leg kick. Hard left from Emeev. Bit of a right from Emeev, Zawada counters with a left hook. Body kick from Emeev. They clinch, then break. Leg kick from Zawada, this time Emeev counters with a right. Emeev lands a jab. Another clinch, then they break with punches. Emeev lands a calf kick. Right then a left from Emeev. Zawada lands another leg kick, but takes the counter right again. Another clinch, both men dig blows in close then they break. Zawada defends a deep double leg attempt and they hit the fence in the clinch. They trade again, Emeev lands a left elbow as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Emeev but closer, 20-18 Emeev overall

ROUND THREE: Zawada has a pretty serious cut around the left eye from a right hook at the end of that last round. Emeev lands a punch, then hits a double leg into full guard. Zawada trying to scoot to the fence and work his guard. Emeev avoids a triangle attempt and lands punches. Emeev moves to half guard, lands a few more short blows. Zawada shrimps to his knees, he drives to the fence and is up while Emeev holds a front headlock. Zawada gets a takedown, Emeev is thinking about a d’arce but bails as Zawada is in side control. Emeev gets half guard, Zawada uses that to pass to full mount. Emeev gives up the back, but uses that to scramble to top position. Zawada wall walks and separates. Leg kick from Zawada. They trade lefts, then Emeev lands a left hook. Both men with lefts again. Bit of a right from Emeev, and they clinch but break as Zawada lands a right. Both men land punches in close. Zawada lands a leg kick. A glancing right from Emeev will be the final blow of the fight.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Zawada but another close one, 29-28 Emeev overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Ramazan Emeev via split decision (28-29, 29-28 x2)

No issues with 29-28 either way, round 2 was quite close. Solid fight overall, and Emeev gets an interview. He says he feels great, thanks the UFC and everyone for the opportunity. He puts over Zawada, and talks about being motivated to continue improving.

Carlos Felipe has gone 1-1 in the UFC, he won his last fight and is hoping to prove he’s found his footing in the promotion by getting a winning streak going. Justin Tafa is also coming off of his first UFC and trying for his first promotional winning streak, only one of them can try to prove themselves a genuine heavyweight prospect. Felipe is the favorite at -200 to +170 on Tafa.

Heavyweight Bout: Carlos Felipe (9-1, 264 lbs.) vs. Justin Tafa (4-1, 265 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height but Felipe has an inch of reach over Tafa. Southpaw for Tafa, they touch gloves to get us going. Both men range finding early. Tafa lands a right then a couple of body kicks. Felipe lands a leg kick. Another body kick from Tafa. Both men miss punches, then Felipe lands a body kick. Tafa lands a calf kick. Body kick and calf kick from Tafa. We get a brief pause, Tafa seems to have taken a finger to the eye. Replay confirms the poke, but Tafa is good to continue after a little over 30 seconds. Both men land body kicks. Tafa lands another leg kick then avoids a few rights. Another calf kick from Tafa, he’s fighting very well so far. Tafa lands a straight left then a calf kick. Glancing right from Felipe lands, but Tafa comes back with another body kick. Tafa avoids a right, and lands a counter left. They stare away the final seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Tafa, might be a 10-8 argument in there

ROUND TWO: Felipe comes out coming forward and landing to the body, he’s looking to crash distance more this round. Bit of a left from Tafa. Leg kick from Felipe. Tafa lands a left. Calf kick from Tafa. Felipe lands a right to the body, Tafa responds with a left to the liver. Tafa lands a body kick. Leg kick from Tafa. Left hook from Felipe lands, then a follow up right. Another body kick from Tafa then a right hook behind it. Felipe misses a few rights, and Tafa took another finger to the eye so Felipe get’s his final warning about that from the ref. Felipe lands a right to the body, then one to the head and Tafa is hurt. They trade, Felipe lands a right that stuns Tafa and they wind up clinched. That right from Felipe landed to the eye, but it was a punch and therefore perfectly legal. They’re kind of stalling in the clinch and Tafa is regaining himself. They break, then Felipe lands a body kick. Bit of a right from Felipe. Uppercut from Felipe, Tafa responds with a left hook. Both men land in the pocket. They stay in the pocket and trade to the body and head as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Felipe, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: After the wild brawl we got over the final seconds of the previous round, Tafa starts this one off with a leg kick. Tafa avoids a punch and lands a combination. Felipe lands a body kick. Tafa has stopped kicking, which is a shame because those were great weapons for him. Felipe gets close and lands to the body, Tafa obliges his infighting and digs the body as well. They’re literally forehead to forehead like boxing infighters trading punches. Felipe complains of an eye poke so he’ll get time, but he can continue and the ref warns both men about their fingers. Right from Felipe. Tafa working the right as well, then a left to the body. Body kick from Felipe. Tafa avoids a punch, gets a body lock and drives Felipe to the fence. Some body shots from Tafa. They trade in the clinch as they break. Both men land elbows, Tafa gets a takedown but Felipe bounces up and still in the clinch on the fence. Tafa lands some rights to the body and head in the clinch. Felipe finally spins free with 30 seconds left. They get into the pocket again and start swinging punches, both men land but neither goes down. A right from Felipe will be the final blow of the round. Crazy brawl down the stretch there.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Tafa, 29-28 Tafa overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Carlos Felipe via split decision (28-29, 29-28 x2)

I disagree, but it comes down to the third and that was a close enough round. I’ll still argue for Tafa but 29-28 for Felipe is probably defensible. No interview for Felipe.

Wu Yanan has gone 1-2 in the UFC, she’s coming off of a loss and a weight miss and needs a win here to regain some positive momentum for her career. Joselyne Edwards is making her UFC debut here, and I believe she’s the first Panamanian fighter to make their way to the UFC. She’s trying to get her UFC career going with a win and announce herself to the wider audience. The odds are very close, but lean towards Wu at -115 to -105 for Edwards.

Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Joselyne Edwards (9-2, 135 lbs.) vs. Wu Yanan (11-3, 136 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Edwards has four inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Still looking for our first UFC finish of 2021. Wu lands an inside leg kick. Wu is bouncing a lot, she walks into a left hook. Leg kick from Edwards. Wu lands a body kick, eats a counter and they clinch up but Wu gets a body lock takedown into full guard. Some hammer fists from Wu, Edwards is trying to set up an armbar. Edwards gets the legs over the head and starts trying to extend the arm. Wu is trying to work her elbow past the hips of Edwards but Edwards has her tied up pretty good. Wu tries to slam, but Edwards is extending the arm. Edwards bails to try and transition to another attack but Wu stands over her. Up kick from Edwards, but Wu spins around her guard and tries to attack an arm. Edwards to her knees, Wu into the ride. Edwards sweeps and gets on top, full mount and she unloads with blows. Wu gives up her back, she’s trying to wall walk but Edwards starts to flatten her out. Wu spins into the guard of Edwards, and they swing from that position as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Edwards

ROUND TWO: Wu bouncing again, Edwards lands a body kick. Leg kick from Edwards. Wu with a body kick. Bit of an exchange of rights. Wu is pushing forward, lands an elbow in a brief clinch then separates. Right from Wu, Edwards returns a hard left hook. Edwards coming forward now, they clinch up and Wu gets a body lock takedown but is reversed on the way down and Edwards lands on top in full guard. Some punches from Edwards, a series of rights along the fence as Wu fights to her feet but those were good rights. They’re still clinched on the fence, and Wu spins Edwards to the fence then breaks. We get technical issues, come back to Edwards on her back landing an upkick that backs up Wu and Edwards is back up. Both women miss punches. Edwards lands a body kick. Wu pushes forward into a clinch but can’t keep it. Bit of a combination from Wu. Wu avoids some punches. They trade in close, Edwards landed the better punches, then extend the exchange until the end of the round with both women landing.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Edwards, 20-18 Edwards overall

ROUND THREE: Edwards stalking forward, lands a side kick to the body. Wu is coming forward, they punch into a clinch then break with a right from Edwards. Both women land punches in the pocket. Both fall short on punches but Wu follows up with a left hook. Edwards with a left to the body. Bit of a right from Edwards. Hard leg kick from Edwards. Both women land punches, Edwards with another leg kick then a body kick. Edwards misses a spinning back fist. Right from Wu lands flush. Edwards again with a body kick. Wu is coming forward, they both land again. Right from Edwards lands. Wu lands a right. Both women swing but don’t land. Bit of a leg kick from Edwards. Wu lands a left. Edwards tries a takedown, Wu defends. One more exchange of missed punches closes the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Wu, 29-28 Edwards overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jocelyn Edwards via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27 x2)

Solid debut for Edwards, but no interview.

That wraps up preliminary action, on to ABC for the main card.

At the top of the broadcast we’re getting an announcement about UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov after he and UFC President Dana White met yesterday, hopefully we get some clarity about the future of both Khabib and the lightweight division. Or not? Apparently I was lied to, that might be coming later in the broadcast as we’re getting the first fight next.

Punahele Soriano is undefeated including a successful UFC debut in December of 2019, he’s finally back in action here and hoping to remind everyone that he’s one of the more exciting up and coming fighters the division has. Dusko Todorovic is also undefeated including his UFC debut, he’s hoping to establish himself as a notable prospect going forward by remaining perfect after this fight. Todorovic enjoys favored status at -160 to a +135 comeback on Soriano.

Middleweight Bout: Punahele Soriano (7-0, 186 lbs.) vs. Dusko Todorovic (10-0, 186 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Todorovic is two inches taller and has an inch a half of reach over Soriano. Both men southpaw, well Todorovic is switching his stance. Bit of a right from Todorovic, Soriano with a left to counter. Todorovic avoids a high kick then lands a body kick, he’s switching a lot when it comes to his stance. Some front kicks to the body from Todorovic, just stabbing at Soriano. Jab from Todorovic lands. Soriano misses a left, and eats a couple of counters. Todorovic is slipping and countering nicely while Soriano is kind of in swing hard and hope mode. Right from Todorovic, Soriano lands the counter left this time and that definitely got Todorovic’s attention. Todorovic lands a jab. Another front kick to the body from Todorovic. Todorovic avoids some looping punches from Soriano. If Soriano would straighten those out he’d have more success against the leaning Todorovic. They clinch, trade knees, and they break. Todorovic lands a right again, he’s landing that and then avoiding the counters pretty regularly. Long left from Soriano, then another and Todorovic is hurt. Todorovic fights up, stumbles back abut he’s able to wrap up full guard on the mat. Soriano separates but Todorovic is up after him and in the clinch. They break, and Soriano misses a high kick. Bit of a left from Soriano, then another on the fence. Todorovic is down on his back, Soriano makes him stand this time. Todorovic lost his mouthpiece on one of those lefts, they have to get it on the reset. They eventually get it, on the reset Soriano lands another left, then another and Todorovic drops to his knees which will prompt the stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Punahele Soriano via TKO, punches, at 4:48 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Soriano for his work this afternoon, and is happy to be here for the first UFC finish of 2021. Mic time for Soriano, he says that wasn’t bad for being off for a year. He says this was the fight he expected, puts over Todorovic’s toughness, then talks us through the finish and mentions being a little surprised by the stoppage but isn’t complaining. Asked about the future he says the world is in front of him and he’s ready to take it on.

The first finish for the UFC in 2021. Soriano is good about feinting with his shoulders, and splitting the timing on Todorovic as he backs up. Also note how he’s straightened the punch out, if you look at his earlier punches he was looping them badly but once he made them straighter the lean of Todorovic wasn’t enough to get away from the power. If you think the stoppage is early, remember this is the third or fourth knockdown of the round.

OK, here’s Dana White to talk about Khabib and the lightweight division. Dana says he was surprised about Khabib’s retirement last year, and mentions all the emotions that Khabib was going through at that point. He talks about meeting with Khabib last night and Khabib is going to watch the upcoming slate of lightweight fights and if something spectacular comes from Conor, Dustin, Chandler, Hooker, or even Charles Oliveira after Oliveira’s last fight he’ll defend the title against any of them. So, we got a non-answer to the situation? Dana taking his cues from a JJ Abrams television series.

Joaquin Buckley scored the knockout of the year last year, he’s on a two fight winning streak as well and is still trying to maximize his profile in the wake of his new found popularity. Buckley is hoping to extend his streak and start looking towards ranked opposition sooner rather than later. Alession Di Chirico has gone 2-4 in his last six fights and is on a three fight losing streak coming into this fight, it’s very likely he’s being set up as a stepping stone for Buckley but it’s up to him to change that narrative with a win. The odds are with Buckley at -300 to a +240 payout on Di Chirico.

Middleweight Bout: Joaquin Buckley (12-3, 185 lbs.) vs. Alessio Di Chirico (12-5, 186 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Di Chirico is two inches taller while Buckley has two inches of reach advantage. Southpaw for Buckley. Body kick from Di Chirico. Di Chirico working front kicks, lands an inside leg kick. Bit of a left from Buckley. Di Chirico lands a right, then tries a high kick that’s blocked. Both men miss some hooks in close. Buckley with a left to the body. Di Chirico with a knee to the body as Buckley was trying to get close. Di Chirico lands a high kick, and Buckley is OUT as he hits the ground.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Alessio Di Chirico via KO, head kick, at 2:12 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr Di Chirico for his work this evening. Mic time for Di Chirico after that one, he’s happy to get a win and petitions for all the losers of fights to get interviewed. He thanks the crowd but doesn’t get any further than that.

Here’s the finish. Buckley has been consistently dipping low and to his own left when closing distance, Di Chirico has been firing kicks but mostly low so when he ducks in here he reads that kick coming lower than it is. The shin cracks the temple and top of the head, and Buckley is out as he hits the ground. Nice read from Di Chirico.

Santiago Ponzinibbio is on an impressive seven fight winning streak, but he was last seen knocking out Neil Magny back in 2018. Ponzinibbio is hoping to extend his streak, remind everyone that he’s a top shelf welterweight, and possibly move into the title picture before the end of the year. Li Jingliang also fought Neil Magny last, but Li lost the fight and his three fight winning streak. Li is trying to score one of the bigger wins of his career and take a step towards either ranked opposition or gaining a top fifteen spot outright. Despite the layoff Ponzinibbio is the biggest favorite on the entire card at -310 while Li’s comeback sits at +250.

Welterweight Bout: Li Jingliang (17-6, 170 lbs.) vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio (27-3, 171 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Ponzinibbio has an inch and a half of reach over Li. They touch gloves to get us going. Both men circling and feinting early. Ponzinibbio is slowly backing Li up. Bit of a left from Li. Ponzinibbio avoids a combination from Li. Ponzinibbio checks an inside leg kick but hasn’t thrown much yet. Leg kick from Ponzinibbio. Li lands a front kick to the body. Bit of a right from Li. Ponzinibbio lands a jab and a calf kick. Li with a low kick, then a side kick to the body. Ponzinibbio lands a leg kick. Right then a left hook from Li absolutely SLEEPS Ponzinibbio and we’re done here.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Li Jingliang via KO, punches, at 4:25 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Li for his work this evening. Mic time for Li after that, he feels great and is happy to be in Abu Dhabi and says having fans back is great. He talks us through the finish, appreciates all the fans back in China watching and puts over all of his support network. To close he tells Dana White to pay attention to what he can do.

There’s a couple of things here. First is Ponzinibbio’s right hand, it doesn’t go back to his waist but it’s too wide to be defensively helpful. Then there’s the angle, he backs straight up without moving his head and that allows Li to easily track the target with his left.

Carlos Condit just got his first win since 2015 when he got a decision over Court McGee last year, he’s trying to get his first winning streak since 2012 up and running here while reminding everyone of his capability for violence. Speaking of capacity for violence, Matt Brown just had a two fight winning streak halted by rising prospect Miguel Baeza but he’s a fan favorite brawler for a reason and could score a memorable win here by taking out the former title challenger Condit. Somewhat surprisingly Condit is the -180 favorite while the +155 payout on Brown has to be a tempting value bet.

Welterweight Bout: Matt Brown (22-17, 171 lbs.) vs. Carlos Condit (31-13, 171 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Condit is two inches taller and has half an inch of reach over Brown. Brown coming forward, lands a leg kick and Condit responds with a combination. Condit lands a leg kick. Brown lands a right, Condit misses a counter elbow. Both men miss left hooks, then Brown blocks a high kick. Leg kick from Condit. Brown clinches up and gets a takedown along the fence. Half guard for Condit, Brown is bleeding from somewhere on the head but I can’t see specifically. Full guard now for Condit. Elbows from Brown. Condit isn’t trying to wall walk, I’m surprised by that. Some elbows from Condit but he’s way too complacent off of his back. Brown passes to half guard, lands a punch as Condit gets full guard back. Apparently the cut on Brown came from the fence when he took Condit down, that sucks. Condit tries to get his guard working, Brown reads it and lands an elbow. Brown handcuffs the left arm of Condit, passes to half guard and lands punches. Condit gets his hand back, hits a switch along the fence and lands some blows from top position. Brown tries to invert for the legs of Condit, Condit with some elbows as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Brown

ROUND TWO: Condit kicking again, he and Brown both land blows. Brown with a lunging elbow to the jaw and Condit is backing up. High kick from Condit stands Brown up, then he kicks the leg. Right from Condit then a left body kick. Brown with a bit of a right. Jab from Brown. Brown with some knees to the body in close, Condit responds with a body to head series of punches. Another clinch, and Brown drives Condit to the fence. They jockey for position, and find spots to land little blows before they break with a Brown elbow. Leg scissors trip from Condit, he lands blows as Brown fights up then gets a single leg to land on top. Brown gets full guard. Some short elbows and punches from Condit. Condit going body to head with his blows. Condit passes to half guard, he lands some elbows while Brown starts looking to shrimp. Brown hip escapes to full guard but he’s taking blows all the way. The round will end in that spot, with more elbows from Condit.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Condit, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Condit tries a body kick, that hit the groin of Brown so we’ve got time. Brown only needs about 20 seconds and we’re back to fighting. Condit with a bit of a left hook, then a leg kick. Some stance switching from Condit now. They clinch up again, trade knees then break. Brown avoids a hook, clinches up and they hit the fence again. Bit of a foot sweep from Brown but they wind up separating. Brown lands a right, tries a takedown but Condit spins to his back and jumps to get both hooks in. Brown is based up, Condit breaks his base down so Brown drops to his knees. Condit bails on the hooks and shifts to the ride, he lands some rights to the head. Brown to his seat, Condit moves to side control. Condit almost has the stockade position, he lands lefts and moves to the back with both hooks in. Brown breaks the hooks, and fights up to his feet then starts after the takedown. Condit slips trying a kimura roll, Brown on top but Condit is after a triangle position. Brown into the full guard and starts trying to stuff Condit into the fence. Condit is looking to work his guard high, he actually escapes to his feet, Brown tries a single leg but Condit lands an elbow then tries a double leg but Brown rolls with him and gets on top again. Both men swing some on the mat as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Condit, 29-28 Condit overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Carlos Condit via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Giving Condit the first seems straight up wrong, shame on the judges. Mic time for Condit after that fun little brawl, he puts over Brown and his team. He’s happy to have won, thanks his team for all of their work, and notes he’s finally feeling more comfortable wrestling these days. Asked who he’d like next he doesn’t know, he just wants to fight.

Max Holloway is one of the very best featherweights of all time and the former UFC champion at that weight class. Unfortunately Holloway is just 1-3 in his last four fights and has lost his last two fights to Alexander Volkanovski, he’s trying to avoid his first ever three fight losing streak and try to make a case for another shot at the title. Calvin Kattar has gone 6-2 in the UFC, he’s on his third two fight winning streak but could get a career defining win here if he’s able to best an all time great and former champion on this kind of stage. Holloway is the favorite at -160 to +135 for Kattar.

Featherweight Bout: #1 Max Holloway (31-6, 146 lbs.) vs. #6 Calvin Kattar (22-4, 146 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height, but Kattar has three inches of reach advantage. Circling early, Holloway showing the lead hand early. Kattar with a calf kick. More lead hand work from Holloway, just getting reads. Kattar with another calf kick, he’s committing to that early. Holloway with a couple of hooks, then a right. Holloway lands a leg kick. Body shot from Holloway, Kattar has good high defense but his body is a bit open. Right to the body from Holloway. Both men working the jab as well. A lot more kicks from Holloway than usual. Both men land lefts, then Holloway lands a jab. Holloway avoids a left hook and lands a combination to the body and head. Calf kick from Kattar. Holloway kicks the leg again. Kattar lands a couple of straight rights, both men have very fast hands offensively. Holloway lands a right to the body, then a straight right. Both men still jabbing, Kattar lands another calf kick but eats a counter right. Holloway with a combination of punches, the pace these two are keeping is quite high. Spinning back kick to the body from Holloway then they trade rights. One two from Holloway, Kattar lands a calf kick. Both men miss kicks, and that will close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Holloway

ROUND TWO: Holloway moving around, lands a one two. Holloway’s ability to find the small holes in Kattar’s defense is remarkable. Stiff jab from Holloway. Kattar lands a left hook. Holloway punching to the body, trying to open up the head. Knee to the body from Holloway, then they split some jabs. Right from Holloway off balances Kattar but he’s back up quickly. Right from Kattar lands, Holloway just eats it. Kattar lands a jab. Both men miss counter rights. Bit of a body kick from Holloway. Kattar lands a hard left hook, Holloway’s chin is impressive. Right from Kattar, he’s finding his own offense now. They get close and trade uppercuts, neither man is willing to back down. Right to the body from Holloway then a knee to the body. More body shots from Holloway, then a right elbow that badly hurts Kattar. Holloway looks to unload on the fence but Kattar fires back enough to get him to reconsider. Another elbow from Holloway, Kattar is still fighting bu the’s cut on the forehead from those. They clinch up, Holloway with another elbow as they break. Kattar is surviving, he gets off the fence, and eats a head kick but the round will end before Holloway can really follow up.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Holloway, 20-17 Holloway overall

ROUND THREE: Holloway feinting again as the round starts. Both men miss, Holloway then lands a bit of a right. Right from Holloway, he’s unloading again and Kattar clinches up to stop that. Elbow from Kattar as they break. Kattar lands a jab, Holloway tries to counter but eats an uppercut and now it’s Holloway backing up. They trade hard in close. Jabs from Holloway, Kattar trying to jab back at him. Double jab and a right from Holloway. Holloway with a right to the body, then a body kick. Left hook from Holloway lands flush, Kattar just eats it. Both men jabbing again, Kattar lands a hard right but Holloway just eats it. Kattar eats some punches, tries a double leg but Holloway defends. Jab from Kattar. Holloway slams another right to the body. Jab from Holloway, he just never stops throwing. Hard right to the body from Holloway then they trade jabs. That volume from Holloway is breaking Kattar down. Rights to the head and body from Holloway. Straight right from Holloway and he evades some hooks from Kattar. A jab from Holloway closes the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Holloway, 30-26 Holloway overall

ROUND FOUR: They both come out jabbing again, and Holloway swings to the body as well. That right to the body from Holloway is killer. A couple of lefts to the body from Holloway then they trade jabs but Holloway keeps throwing when Kattar stops. Kattar lands a hard left hook. Holloway digs the body in close again, Kattar lands a jab. They trade rights, then Holloway lands to the body again. The body work is wilting Kattar along the fence. Elbows and body shots from Holloway, Kattar is firing back but he’s getting abused. Holloway with an uppercut, Kattar is staggered. Holloway looks to unload again, Kattar wont go down and lands a left but Holloway just will not stop hitting him. Elbows from Kattar, he’s as tough as the proverbial 2 dollar steak. They clinch up briefly then break. Holloway with an elbow then more body shots. Kattar with hooks in close. Hard right from Holloway, then Holloway clinches up. They break, and Kattar lands a front kick to the body. Right from Kattar. Holloway hits the body again. Kattar lands another right and Holloway backs up. Kattar misses an elbow. They split a few more jabs. Holloway avoids a punch and lands a head kick, how on Earth is Kattar still upright? The round ends with a side kick to the leg from Holloway.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Holloway, 40-34 Holloway overall

ROUND FIVE: Kattar’s corner should consider stopping this, he’s taking too much damage with such little chance of winning. Both men showing the lead hand early again. Holloway lands to the body again then avoids a right. Kattar lands a jab. Another body shot from Holloway then a jab. Jabs up top and rights to the body from Holloway, then a right to the head. Kattar has gone southpaw now, Holloway doesn’t care and keeps landing punches. Bit of a jab from Kattar, the lands a right and a left but Holloway fires back. Calf kick from Kattar, Holloway lands a right. Spinning back kick from Holloway. Kattar blocks a high kick. Holloway to the body again, and Holloway has surpassed the single fighter record for attempted strikes as he’s north of 600 now. Right from Holloway, Kattar lands a hard right of his own but Holloway is yelling at him and countering. They trade calf kicks. Holloway is talking to commentary, and lands a jab. He’s beating up Kattar and talking to the booth at the same time. I don’t have words, this is among the best performances you’ll ever see. Holloway avoids some power punches and lands a body shot. Leg kicks from Holloway, Kattar misses a head kick. Holloway avoids a last ditch attack from Kattar and the clock runs out.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Holloway, 50-43 overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Max Holloway via unanimous decision (50-42, 50-43 x2)

You could give Holloway a 10-8 1st or 5th, or a 10-7 in the 4th now that I think about it. Holloway in the mic, says that’s fight of the night, and then says he’ll be on hand for the PPV next week and willing to step in if anything happens to one of those guys. And he walks away, because Max is the man. Holloway threw almost 700 strikes during that fight, that is an absolutely insane pace.

Anik moves over to Kattar, who just says he wasn’t taking a knee for anyone and puts over Holloway. Kattar’s nose is badly broken, but he does say Holloway deserves another shot at the belt.

Well we’ve got an early Fight of the Year contender right off the bat. Thanks everyone for reading along, it’s nice to be back in the swing of things. We’ll unpack all of this on the 411 Ground and Pound Podcast Sunday, plus have a double preview coming up. The UFC is back on Wednesday early morning, so if you’d rather watch fights than listen to the same tired song and dance from an incoming US President I’ll be here to keep you company. Plus UFC 257 in a week when Conor McGregor returns, so that’ll be fun. I’ll be back for both of those events, and I hope you will as well. Until next time everyone, stay safe out there and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.